THE TALON

Mad About Traffic in Charleston? Here is Who You Should Blame

The State's Delays of 526 Completion are Directly Affecting Traffic

For everyone who thinks that the steady increase of traffic in Charleston is absurd, you can blame the South Carolina State Infrastructure Bank. Ten years ago, they dedicated money to complete I-526, extending it to Johns Island and James Island, easing traffic throughout the entire county. Now, because of their negligence coupled with resistance from Johns Island residents who do not want the project completed, the amount they pledged 10 years ago isn’t enough to cover the project anymore (the amount they have dedicated to the project right now is 420 million dollars). The road was so important, they even pledged an additional $130 million if needed to keep it completed. Now, state lawmakers have lost all interest in completing the project. As Brian Hicks said in his Post & Courier column, “this is about politics, and powerful lawmakers who have more interest in taking that money and paving cow pastures in rural counties than keeping the state’s economic engine humming.” The Department of Transportation and the State Infrastructure Bank have a signed agreement to complete this project, but without Speaker Bobby Harrell and former Senate President Pro Tem Glenn MConnell speaking up, this project has gone to the wayside. The statehouse wants to take the money allocated to this project and divert it to other projects.  For some reason they have a hard time spending money on Charleston, despite the financial benefits of the port, and the fact that Charleston is one of the biggest revenue sources for the state. The salt from the millions of dollars on the Ravenel Bridge project flows through their blood.

The heart of the issue is that the State Infrastructure Bank was setup for reasons exactly like this: projects that the county cannot afford on its own, especially bridges. We can thank Chip Limehouse for helping write legislation to create this bank, and for advocating in favor of finishing the I-526 project. Charleston has a lot of need for high dollar projects. We have a lot of rivers, and complicated infrastructure is often necessary, but, everyone is moving to Charleston, and if the state is going to be unwilling to work to complete these essential projects, then we are going to have much bigger problems on our hands down the road. We are already in a position of playing catch up in terms of infrastructure, and the state thinks solving our traffic problem is as simple as adding turn lanes to sub-urban two lane roads.

The cost of the project has gone up directly because of the State Infrastructure Bank’s negligence, and Charleston County is paying the price. Legislators will be meeting on Monday to discuss the completion of the project. To give them a little encouragement, tell them you want them to stop the delays and vote in favor of the tax payers of Charleston County by calling this number: (803) 737-2875.

 

Brian Hicks’ Column in the Post and Courier contributed to this article. 

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